Is 2015 really 2006 all over again?

Last week I spoke with Brisbane’s legal, accounting and engineering firms about what 2015 is likely hold for business development and marketing. And it made me think back to research I did in 2006, some nine years ago.

Our discussion was part an interactive seminar hosted by APSMAAnd the number one thing that the firms I spoke to agreed on was that next year is likely to be tougher than this one. So they wanted to know two key things about getting ahead:

·How to bring the concept of innovation to life. (They felt there was a lot of talk about being innovative but very little concrete action), and

·How to do more with less.

Getting innovative

In 2006 I did a study on innovation in professional services firms which I think is equally relevant today. This graphic is based on that research and shows five practical things firms can start doing to encourage innovative practices.

I also suggested firms should start familiarising themselves with concepts like ‘Design Thinking’, as well as conducting observational research and interpretation. They might also consider working with professionals outside their firms, such as architects and technologists, who would bring entirely different perspectives on what they do.

Doing more with less

I also talked about eight different ways professional services firms could become more efficient in their BD and marketing spend. Here’s what I said.

1.Bring marketing and business development functions closer to finance. That way they will really understand and align with the profit drivers of the business. This will also make it easier to clearly demonstrate how marketing and BD activities can impact these drivers.

2.Don’t over-engineer it. Start capitalising on listening posts that already exist in your firm.  For example, find out what credit control is hearing from clients? Always debrief with a new client after your first matter with them to find out what they really think. And make sure you get regular and comprehensive feedback from your referral sources.

3.Ask whether you are really adding value. Move yourself up the value chain and think of the big picture, not just the execution of your services.  Bring market or client insights into all your discussions about business development.

4.Align your plan and priorities to the client’s pathway to your firm. Make sure all your processes tie together: from enticing a new client to extending the relationship. Delay or rethink activities that you find aren’t a measurable contribution.

5.Keep up the momentum. Don’t waste too much time and energy on small things like sending emails, drawing up schedules and finessing documents. My rule is that busyness begets busyness and good levels of activity have a multiplier effect. In other words, momentum matters more than creating a masterpiece.

6.Keep building your tool kit.  Don’t get stuck on one model for BD – familiarise yourself with a range of marketing or sales concepts and be ready to adapt to suit your audience and situation.

7.Build networks beyond your firm and your industry. That way you can become a bridge or go to source for information or connections.

8.Be ready to play in the red zone.  Competition can be fierce. So get pragmatic; not precious.  There can sometimes be sensible strategic reasons for playing hard or pitching low. For example sometimes it’s worth it for reputation and reference value. You just need to understand why you’re doing it and capitalise.

So that is my advice for staying on top of business development and marketing 2015. Does it feel like deja vu?Or is it just that the fundamentals of good business development stay the same, no matter how technology develops or the market changes?

If your firm needs help building a business development or marketing strategy for 2015 contact Sue-Ella. p: 0411 780 255 e: sueella@prodonovich.com